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Important lessons to learn before settling down

Jessica Padykula is a freelance writer and editor in Toronto, Canada covering a wide range of  topics for several online lifestyle publications. She is a regular contributor for SheKnows, covering travel, style, relationships, health and...

Make the right love decision

Before you decide to get married or even enter into a long-term relationship, there are a few important lessons you should learn that will make your life easier and much less stressful. Love can be tricky so it's a good idea to know what you're getting into before you take the plunge from dating to something a lot more serious. We’re here to help make sure the whole transition goes smoothly. Read on for some advice that will help you know if you're making the right decision.

Woman thinking about breaking up with boyfriend

1You can't change a guy

You may be able to make improvements to whomever you're with, but you won't be able to change him – as hard as you might try or as much as you might want to. It can be very tempting to believe you can take someone who you like – to a point – and turn him into the man of your dreams. Don't believe it. If you don't fully accept him now, as he is, you won't be able to magically make him into someone different just by marrying or moving in with him. Think long and hard before you commit to spending the rest of your life with someone – or even just agreeing to share an apartment, because if you aren't totally happy with who they are and what they're about, you're setting yourself up for a relationship roller coaster that will have you feeling frustrated in no time.

2Chemistry can't be manufactured

What starts off as a hot and heavy romance could end up feeling less-than-passionate within a year. Sometimes this just means you need to retool your approach to romance and try new things when it comes to sex, but other times it means whatever you had is over. You might still think he's nice and fun to be around, but if the chemistry is truly gone, it's not likely to come rushing back any time soon, and you can't force it. Moving forward with a guy you no longer feel any kind of spark with is a bad idea. You'll be leading him on and risking spending time with a person you're no longer into.

3You have to love yourself first

We know you've heard it before and you're going to hear it again – that in order to really have a successful, meaningful relationship with someone else, you have to love yourself first. It may sound like something out of a self-help book, but trust us – it's true. If you don't love and respect yourself (you should, you're fabulous!) then how can you expect someone else to do it? The happier you are with who you are, the easier it will be to attract someone who is worthy of your love and who will treat you well.

4Go with your gut – it's usually right

The most important lesson you can learn before you settle down is to listen to yourself. It's OK to ask for advice and get other people's input, but ultimately you're the only one who knows what's best for you. If you're in a relationship that's progressing quickly and something doesn't feel right, don't ignore those feelings. You don't have to make any rash decisions, but you should also take any doubts that come up seriously. And if you are having doubts about where the relationship is going, you need to address them. Think seriously about whether or not you're happy and if you're not, it may be time to move on.

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